Living On Jesse Luggage!

 

Al Jesse leans on one of the bags that made him famous and a legend in the adventure motorcycle community. His hi-tech CNC and cutting machines behind him.

Jesse Luggage SystemsWhile planning for adventures this summer and fall, and still working on the upcoming television show, I continue to connect with old friends and new.

This week I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Al Jesse, the principal of Jesse Luggage Systems, makers of the best aluminum/hard luggage on the planet. Trust me, it may sound like hyperbole or overstatement, but I assure you it’s not.

For some twenty years Al and his crew have manufactured 100% made in America products out of a facility near Phoenix, Arizona. While the basic concept of the luggage has remained the same, and most of the tens of thousands of Jesse panniers they have sold that don adventure motorcycles from every major brand are still in use today, I learned that Al has changed the design elements of the luggage more than 100 times.

Al just can’t sit still and leave enough alone. He has to make continual improvements. I know. I’ve been using “Jesse Bags” for more than ten years. Even though there is nothing wrong with any iteration of the bags, I get a chance every so often to update my bags and take adventage of these improvements.

Al Jesse with me in front of the FORKS Van which sports the cover image of my book—a beautiful advertisement for the design and durability of his products.

I could go on about the improvements such as the dynamic mounting system that allows for the repositioning of the bags, or the lid hinges that stay put and don’t fall on your fingers. But I’ll hold back. And I won’t tell you about new products and advancements like thin solar panels affixed to the luggage that will charge devices, or the reinforcement panels designed to strengthen the tail and mounting components of the new Africa Twin. But I won’t.

What I will tell you is that I love spending a morning with one of the legends in the adventure motorcycle community.

You can find Jesse Luggage at your local motorcycle dealer, or directly from the Jesse Luggage Systems website.

My Jesse Bags have been through hell and back over the years. Here they are on my bike fully loaded in Paros, Greece, one of the most beautiful Greek Islands while Giorgakis of Giorgakis Motos takes a welder to my forever receding a problematic kickstand.

 

Podcast #27: Neale Bayly on Bank Robbery, 200mph On A Bike & Storytelling

neale-speed-trippleVeteran Moto-journlist, Television Host, and Philanthropist

Any chance I get to spend time with the legendary Neale Bayly, I cherish and relish the experience. Now you can too. It’s hard to say, but this ranks as one of my top guests, so far, on the WorldRider Podcast (who woulda thought). Truly, the guests keep getting better which means for you listeners, less time listening to me, and more time listening to experienced travelers from all over the globe.

Neale Bayly is one of the most accomplished and prolific active motorcycle and motorsport journalists on the scene. Yet, it’s not so much about motorcycles with Neale. He gets it. It’s about connection and the experience. I guess that’s why he’s invested so much energy (and resources) into his WellSpring nonprofit. We don’t dig too much into it in the Podcast, but Neale is a role model for world traveling motorcyclists who give back. His efforts and passion were part of a hit series on the late “Speed Network” called Neale Bayly Rides: Peru. This is still yet to be released on iTunes and Netflix, but I’m told it’s coming.

Listen to the Podcast Now:

allan-neale-speed-tripple

I met Neale in the summer of 2014 when I was on the road with the “FORKS” nationwide book tour. At the time I was familiar with his work, admired his television show, and was eager to meet him. He showed up at my event at Atherton Market in downtown Charlotte. Later in that tour, I returned to Charlotte and had the opportunity to stay with Neale and his son Patrick—even shopping and cooking together a recipe from my book “FORKS”.

Beyond that classic experience of connecting and sharing, Neale and I got to take his stable of Triumph “Triples” for a Sunday ride—street and speed—a casual cruise through Charlotte.

Tune in to the Podcast, and please rate and leave comments on the Facebook
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Jeff Salz

Podcast #26: Dr. Jeff Salz: Find Adventure Anywhere & Dodging Chinese Police

Finding A Totem Pole of Cultural Possibilities

Join host Allan Karl (me) and fellow adventurer, speaker and world traveler Dr. Jeff Salz in an engaging discussion of adventure and travel. Hall of Fame Speaker and anthropologist adventurer, Jeff shares incredible stories from the jungles of Peru to the endless pampas and glacier-studded landscapes of Patagonia. Listen as we dig into what it means to travel, preserve traditional cultures and experience aging as an adventure as we discuss his exciting new book project.

Along the way, we dig into some of the concepts and stories found in his previous book, “The Way of Adventure: Transforming Your Life With Spirit And Vision

Jeff and his partner Lisa Jaffe are sought after speaking coaches and founders of Courageous Speaking, an interactive workshop for all ranges of speakers – from wannabes to beginners to the experienced presenter seeking looking to take their craft to the next level. Their two day intensive workshops, held in north San Diego include four hours of stage time, professional and peer feedback and story development.

Cross-Country Road Trip

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Okay. So here’s the deal: I left my bike in New Jersey with my friend Tim. Why? Because the journey continues this summer. Where? Likely Iceland, the Nordic, perhaps a stopover in Russia, Belarus, and somewhere else. I ultimately will make it to Portugal to meet up with my new friend Miguel and Portugal Motorcycle Tours.

It’s an incredible European adventure. The best part is, some of you can join me. More on that to follow.

IMG_4303-1So with the FORKS van a bit lighter without the bike and less books as a result of so many great new readers who bought signed copies during my tour of the Travel & Adventure Shows, I bid New York City farewell and headed west.

Without too much of an itinerary, I did know that I wanted to cruise through Chicago, Columbus, Springfield — both Illinois and Missouri, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and ultimately back to San Diego.

IMG_4379-1No agenda or itinerary other than connect with old friends and new and make my way home so I can begin planning the next adventure!

 

Manhattan Connections, Regrouping & Street Photography

Before I make my way one last time across this grand country, I head north to New York City with a stop along the way to Tim’s lake house in Northern New Jersey where I drop off the FORKS Van and take the train into Manhattan.

With a few meetings lined up for later in the week, I have a chance to connect with Tim, Lisa, Jo Ann, Paul, and Charlie—all good friends and so nice for the opportunity to see all of them during this trip to NYC.

My weeklong visit is packed with two Broadway musicals, Disaster, a spoof based on 1970’s disaster movies with a pop music soundtrack that had me humming along to most every song— extremely fun, and Southern Comfort, an odd musical based on Kate Davis’s Sundance winning documentary of the same name about an LGBT community in rural Texas.

I also had the opportunity to finally see and walk around the 9/11 memorial at One World Trade Center. I opted out of the elevator ride to the observatory, and instead explored the architect Santiago Calatrava’s controversial work at the new Port Authority Transit Hub (PATH) terminal at the World Trade Center. The terminal just opened a couple weeks ago. I’ll just let my photography tell the story. Sadly, I couldn’t truly capture the Oculus, as it’s called, from outside, but inside the terminal is quite an interesting take on shapes, contrast, shadows, and lines.

 

Winter Travel Show Tour Comes To End

It started in San Diego in January. I just finished this weekend in Philadelphia. I’ve enjoyed living a somewhat gypsy nomad existence over the past three months joining my new friends at The Travel & Adventure Shows. Since the San Diego show I’ve been to Chicago, Dallas, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco and now here back on the east coast in Philly.

If you had a chance to meet or see me at any of these shows, I hope you’ll shoot me an email or tweet to me—even post a comment here on the blog. At each of these shows I had a chance to share and demonstrate cooking recipes from my book FORKS: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection. I also had a chance to share photographs, stories and inspiration from my travels and adventures.

Yet, the best part of touring the country this past winter has been meeting so many interesting and inspired people—travelers or future travelers. And most do not ride motorcycles. And that’s okay. I’ve always said the travel ignites our spirit and fuels our mind—how you travel doesn’t matter. What matters is that you travel.

So as I get ready to journey back to my home in San Diego, I have a feeling of relaxation. That is, I don’t have to rush anywhere, set up, rehearse, buy ingredients, and so on. No, I get a chance to spend time with old friends and certainly as I cruise across the country, make new friends.

So I share with you a retrospective slide show of photos of the faces, places and connections from my travels and at the travel shows.

 

Podcast #25: George Walther: Voodoo, Smiles & Live In A Different Country Every Year

george-walther-headshotThe WorldRider Podcasts continues to evolve and attract new and interesting guests. I’m honored for this opportunity to sit down and share with you this interview with my friend George Walther. George flew in for a few days from Cape Town, South Africa where he is currently living. George is a fellow speaker, world traveler and fellow motorcycle rider.


Not only is George Walther a Hall of Fame Speaker (honored by the National Speaker Association), but George is a a Hall of Fame WorldRider Traveler — honored here on this blog! He’s also a card-carrying member of the Travelers’ Century Club — a unique nonprofit organization comprised of members who’ve traveled to 100 countries or more. Listen in to learn how many countries George has traveled. Even better, George is also a motorcyclists and has traveled through many countries on two wheels.

honey-im-home-cover-artGeorge co-authored, along with his wife Barbi, “Honey I’m Home“, a humorous romance love story and a travel story—a true story!

A gifted storyteller and with incredible life experiences to share, this Podcast will entertain listeners. I suspect there will be future podcasts with George as he continues to explore the world. In the meantime, be sure to follow George and read more of his amazing stories on his blog here.



FORKS On The Road Back To San Diego

IMG_3302 Back at the wheel of the FORKS Tour Van, I decided to head back to San Diego and ultimately the van will be shipped with Doc inside to Washington DC for the Travel & Adventure Show there. The van is getting road tested and showing that the Mercedes-Benz six-cylinder diesel purrs with little maintenance and fantastic some 20+ miles per gallon of diesel fuel. Interestingly, I’ve noticed the price of gas as low as $1.30 in my travels. IMG_3305Diesel clocks in a bit north with lowest at about $1.60. Though in California, diesel is lower than the cost of gasoline—perhaps the only state in the country. Yes, we California suffer high taxes on gas—and most other things. In some ways, the adage is true—especially here in California: you get what you pay for. When I’m not traveling, I do love living in the San Diego area. (images are California fuel prices paid February 3, 2016)

Traveling through Arizona, I was surprised by signs pointing me to where the Road FORKS.I couldn’t resist to see exactly Road FORKS was all about. If you’re looking for Fireworks – or maybe FireFORKS, Road Forks might deliver. That’s about it. Never found the post office, nor where the Road FORKS.

 

Doing Dallas: Food & Travel

Arriving in Dallas road worn and with the Chicago salt slowly eating away and making for an unsightly FORKS Tour Van, it needed a good cleaning before facing the Dallas Fire Marshal and attendees of the Dallas Travel & Adventure Show.

Slightly smaller than the show in Chicago, in Dallas I had more time to spend with the coordinators who manage the chefs, food and excitement on the Taste of Travel Stage, at the Travel & Adventure Shows, Garth Blackburn and Amy Kushnir. Garth and Amy are co-hosts of  “Taste Texas” a television show honoring the food, farms and flavors of Texas’ culinary scene.

On the Taste of Travel Stage, I prepare the Syrian Fattoush salad that’s featured in my book “FORKS” and tell the story of why this salad and how it’s prepared and served is so important and meaningful (come see me at these shows to find out).

Garth Blackburn is the executive chef and senior manager at the Sub-Zero and Wolf Showroom in downtown Dallas. A state of the art facility featuring the most amazing selection of Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances in state of the art kitchens. Garth and Amy film their TV show at the facility, and it’s used to host charitable events, and as a showcase for Garth to unleash his culinary creativity and to inspire people about the beauty and flavors of locally-sourced ingredients as well as the technology and quality of Wolf and Sub Zero (made in America) appliances.

I had a chance to tour the Sub-Zero and Wolf Showroom—the place is an architectural space of beauty, design and uses an eclectic and yet harmonious collection of materials to create a space the is inspiring and jaw-dropping. Nothing is for sale in the showroom—this is simply a place for the USA-based Sub-Zero and Wolf company to show case it’s Made In America selection of industrial-quality appliances. If you get a chance to be in Dallas, call the showroom and schedule an appointment for a tour—a hidden gem tucked away in Dallas.

 

 

Southbound: Chicago to Memphis

Not much to report as traveling via interstate is mind-numbing and brain-dumbing, but when chasing time, it’s the best option. Yet, as I’m fond of noting, it’s always about “the places in between.” So when relegated to the traveling and following the white line tarmac—I make the time to stop, breathe and check in with the locals.

It’s amazing that the FORKS Tour Van has clocked more than 50,000 miles since it first set off from Connecticut in July 2014. The 2011 Mercedes-Benz 2500 Sprinter Cargo Van is a workhorse, and it’s easy and fun to drive. The elevated driving position and low RPM of the diesel engine make for a perfect cruise—though the cabin can be a bit noisy as sound proofing is not a priority of cargo trucks.

The Sprinter was in need of some service. A nagging check-engine light with the occasional “coughing” of the engine was concerning. The tires, new and installed in Chicago some 10,000 miles in the spring of 2015, needed rotating. After a free balance and rotation from the good crew at Discount Tire Centers in Bourbonnais, Illinois, I headed to Sullivan-Parkhill Imports, the Mercedes dealer in Champlain, Illinois, arriving nearly at closing and learning that their Sprinter specialist was out sick. Though Sullivan-Parkhill’s service manager was kind to help me change a burned-out, and recommend another Mercedes-Benz shop that could help me.

So I diverted my route to Springfield—this time in Illinois, and the state capitol. I’d been through here in 2014 during the first leg of my book tour, but I neglected to collect a photo of the FORKS Tour Van adjacent to the state capitol building. So I could take care of the van and grab the photo. Jeremy and the crew at Isringhausen Imports traced the engine light to an air filter in dire need of replacement. In just a few hours I was on the road.

In Memphis, I arranged to meet an old college girlfriend, Lois and her husband Jack shared a collection of small plates at the legendary McEwan’s on Monroe before crashing a 70’s theme party hosted by an international pharmaceutical at the infamous Peabody Hotel and then finally taking in live Memphis blues on Beale Street.